Experiencing pain in the first trimester of pregnancy can be frightening yet a normal part of pregnancy. For the most part, there are simple explanations for these aches and twinges. Despite these early pains, most women go on to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Understanding the normal pains of a healthy pregnancy versus the symptoms of miscarriage will help get you through the uncertain weeks of first trimester.
Rounding Ligament Pain
Low abdominal cramping is the most common complaint from pregnant women in the first trimester. The cramping feeling is the result of rounding ligament pain.
Throughout your pregnancy, your uterus will grow from about the size of an orange to the size of a basketball. The ligaments that surround and support the uterus are called the round ligaments and their job is to support that transformation.
The pain feels like quick, sharp pains and can be centralized on either side of the abdomen or in the middle. Moving quickly from sitting to a standing position, laughing and even coughing can bring on rounding ligament pain.
A doctor cannot perform a test to confirm the reason for the cramping, but can rule out other causes of your pain. Your doctor may recommend some stretches, and taking it easy is always a good idea when you are experiencing a lot of rounding ligament pain.
Taking an acetaminophen form of aspirin when the cramping is particularly painful will help take the edge off. Check with your doctor before taking any medication when pregnant.
The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy begin around the sixth week of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, approximately 2 percent of all pregnancies are ectopic.
This condition refers to a fertilized egg attaching itself incorrectly somewhere on its trip to the uterus; most likely the Fallopian tube. The pain that is experienced with ectopic pregnancy is a consistent, sharp pain. It is usually located on one side of the abdomen but can be centered. The pain is often accompanied by spotting.
Ectopic pregnancy cannot result in a baby and can be a danger to the mother. Your doctor can rule out rounding ligament pain and identify an ectopic pregnancy through a pelvic exam and an ultrasound.
If you suspect an ectopic pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately or go to a hospital emergency room.
When Pain Is A Warning Sign
Just as not all pain in pregnancy signifies danger to you or your baby, some pain experienced in early pregnancy is not benign. The fact is that one in five pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
Although you may only be in the first trimester, the cramping and pain you feel can actually be contractions. If the pain starts out relatively mildly but increases and is accompanied by other symptoms, you may be experiencing a miscarriage.
Signs of miscarriage include sharp and persistent cramping in the lower abdomen, light spotting to heavy bleeding and passing tissue. Any of these symptoms warrant a call or a visit to your doctor.
If you have any questions or concerns about pain at anytime in your pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. If your pain is sharp, consistent, and accompanied by any other symptoms go to your local emergency room.